Welcome back to my passion project – it always feels good to write. I hope that you feel my honesty in this one. Let me know what you think! It might take a bit to get back to you which you will understand if you get to the end.
The irony is not lost on me that the way I am going to share this is via social media. 😉
Social Media & Detoxing
Growing up with it + falling in love with it
I always say my generation grew up in a special time. A lot of people must say that about when they grew up, but the Internet really has prompted an undeniable shift in society. It is a change that will be spoken about for generations to come.
My adolescence feels marked by the uptick in social media platforms. I can remember my first Instagram post – it was not even of me. It was of two of my close friends taking a selfie in my high school cafeteria. If you scroll back on my profile, you can still find it. This has always been my favourite part of Instagram – scrolling back. It is one of the biggest reasons I like to post.
Claiming to be a saint when it comes to social media use is not my goal. I am in an exciting stage of life right now. And that has correlated to an increase in social media use compared to my routine baseline this time last year. From graduation trips to graduation itself, it has been a time for taking photos and videos – and of course wanting to share them.
Not only is it fun to share, I also do want to see what the people I love are doing. (This works well when you are happy for others’ livelihood but falls apart when you are envious.) It makes us feel connected even when we’re physically not – I haven’t decided how I feel about this: it’s neither all good or all bad, like everything in life.
Social media culture shifts
But with this lies some dissonance. Gradually, my screen time has become the highest it has been in a long time. Insidiously, I have felt more unsettled. And I have been a willing participant.
Social media boundaries that I used to have – not checking my platforms first thing in the morning for one – are blurring. I have noticed how different time feels when I am more immersed in social media. It feels like I do less and like I have less time overall. Part of this can be attributed to being out of any sense of routine. Between moving and travels, I feel like I don’t have a true home base.
The current energy I am exposed to on Instagram seems to be more rooted in “authenticity”: posting less frequently, no filters, more photo dumps/albums, and surprisingly increased use of stories. Jokes on us – it’s still “a highlight reel”. I have no idea how my last few months have been perceived, but I have had some rough days filled with big emotions that I feel swept up in. You’ll never see or hear about them when they’re happening. Sometimes, I’ll share a photo on those days and I feel far from authentic. Social media has become one of my favourite adult pacifiers.
I remember when Instagram stories first came out and everyone used it to post their snapchat handles. Now, it seems to be the most desirable use of the app. But with it, comes the nagging element that stories are only up for 24 hours. If you’re not on in that window then you miss out. When I have taken breaks from social media, this is the most difficult hurdle to overcome for me personally – letting go of the idea that I am “missing” things. From memes sent by your friends to stories or even breaking news.
Trends & Identity
The tempo of society
Social media setting the pace and the pulse of our day-to-day is the new norm.
Even as I get ready to move to Vancouver for residency and I plan out my bedroom decor, I’m influenced. When did it become normal for everyone to have the same monochromatic furniture and white puffy couches? Or maybe this is just the niche that I am exposed to on Pinterest and Instagram.
Since the 2020 BLM Protests, social media has also become a steady outlet for cycles of outrage. In some ways, I do feel more aware than ever. In others, number than ever. I feel like I cannot begin to sort through it all anymore. The ability to tune some of it out by deleting a few apps and going about your day is a privilege that should not be lost on any of us.
When did everyone become so alike?
Another qualm I have with social media is this growing sense that I do not have my own likes or dislikes, my own views or taste. These are core aspects of what I would consider my identity. This sense overwhelms me most when I spend large portions of my day on these apps. I feel like I have to sit down and remind myself of who I am, what I enjoy, and what I believe. Something I can only really do during long breaks away from so much information input.
I begin to ask myself , “Do I even have a unique thought?”. Whenever I write, I also ask myself this. It is a question I first heard in reflection from an influencer, Michelle Reed – I know, the irony.
It always feels like I am toeing the fine line between inspiration and assimilation. For example, I love clothes and finding new pieces that feel very “me”. I think I do a decent job of wearing what feels good on me however I also feel very much fed the trends/style of everyone around me. Yet, I also am a firm believer in things being popular for a reason – like Aritzia, which I alongside many am a sucker for. I wear a lot of my items from there year after year. I enjoy the consistency. And I am willing to admit it’s basic. It’s a constant back and forth with myself: branch out or stay in line.
Maybe it’s okay
There is a grace I give myself rooted in that this might be how it has always been. As in, we – humans – are all a compilation of what has been showed to us and shared with us. While social media is an evolution of this, people have all always been a summation of the trends of the times. The thoughts I share here are another permutation of lessons you can likely find somewhere else. I like to believe it does not make it less meaningful to the people this does reach. Overall, I try to give credit wherever I can for the thoughts and lessons I have stumbled across.
My Action Items: 4 social media changes I am going to try out
It would not feel right to observe all of this and not have a plan of action. I’ll report back but here are some straightforward changes I came up with:
- Limiting my usage. The obvious. What is the how behind this? Quite simply, I am going to try to delete Instagram – the main culprit – and only download it on the weekends for a short period of time. For other apps – my goal remains to not to open them in the morning.
- Telling my friends about 1). This makes me feel less bad about not replying to their messages or memes.
- Reading about how to better manage our digital world – people have already looked into this! Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport has been on my list for a while. Reading also always tends to remind me of the one of many other ways I can spend my time other than scrolling.
- Quite literally getting a life, an extension of 3). I made a list. A list of things I like to do other than work and scroll. These ranged from movement (pilates, walks, biking), meditation, singing, and learning languages just to name a few. Big fan of lists as a “second brain” over here.
That’s all for now! I like writing these because as much as they may resonate with someone else, they are often words I need to reflect on and read myself. As always, I am only a DM away but I might not see it until Saturday.
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Until next time,